The Florida Department of Education has approved screening videos that deny the Earth’s changing climate to schoolchildren in the state, according to the Guardian.
Animations from Prager University Foundation, a conservative group that pushes untruths about sustainable energy and the warming of the planet, will now be a part of the public school curriculum in Florida.
On the organization’s website, Prager University Foundation states it is “not an accredited university, nor do we claim to be.” In fact, it is a media platform and advocacy group that was founded by right-wing radio host Dennis Prager.
It has produced a number of videos that present “alternative” viewpoints on subjects such as racism, slavery, sexuality, and climate science.
The videos approved to be shown to children from kindergarten to fifth grade feature characters who question several sustainable actions, such as moving away from dirty energy sources, switching to renewable energy, and reducing reliance on plastics.
Why is this concerning?
Florida governor Ron DeSantis has been waging a campaign against what he believes are “woke” issues, and the actions of humans relating to an increase in global temperatures is one particular topic he is pushing back on.
Now, videos featuring climate-denial talking points could be shown to children as young as five years old.
Adrienne McCarthy, a researcher at Kansas State University, told the Guardian why this is particularly troubling.
“It’s propaganda 101,” she said. “Equating people concerned about climate change with Nazis can have long-term impacts on young, impressionable people. The beliefs PragerU are pushing forward overlap with far-right extremist beliefs. The fear is that they will bring this sort of extremist beliefs into mainstream society.”
In a piece for Mother Jones, principal climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists Kristina Dahl annotated the transcript of one of these videos, demonstrating how the visuals and script are trying to convince the viewer to ignore the findings of scientific research.
“It’s evil more than it is stupid,” said a Reddit user discussing the Guardian article, while another lamented the forces enabling this and anti-environmental policy planning like Project 2025 as “doing the bidding of oil companies.”
How can we stop climate misinformation?
It can be difficult to change people’s minds or to prevent children from being taught provable falsehoods, but remaining steadfast in your sustainability efforts can go a long way.
If you continue to implement positive change, such as driving an electric car, switching to renewable energy, or ensuring household waste is recycled appropriately, you will set a good example for your children and neighbors that will hopefully prove admirable. Providing teachable moments at home will also help children to see the benefits of sustainable actions.
Otherwise, when it comes to education, raising issues with your local school board can help stop the spread of misinformation in the classroom.
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